James Chen, Postdoctoral Faculty Sponsor
Long-lived lanthanide emission via a pH-sensitive and switchable LRET complex
Lanthanide-based luminescence resonance energy transfer (LRET) can be used as a tool to enhance lanthanide emission for time-resolved cellular imaging applications. By shortening lanthanide emission lifetimes whilst providing an alternative radiative pathway to the formally forbidden, weak lanthanide-only emission, the photon flux of such systems is increased. With this aim in mind, we investigated energy transfer in differently spaced donor-acceptor terbium-rhodamine pairs with the LRET "on" (low pH) and LRET "off" (high pH). Results informed the design, preparation and characterisation of a compound containing terbium, a spectrally-matched pH-responsive fluorophore and a receptor-targeting group. By combining these elements, we observed switchable LRET, where the targeting group sensitises lanthanide emission, resulting in an energy transfer to the rhodamine dye with an efficiency of E = 0.53. This strategy can be used to increase lanthanide emission rates for brighter optical probes.
View details for DOI 10.1039/d1sc01503f
View details for Web of Science ID 000654358900001
View details for PubMedID 34257873
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC8246121
In vivo delivery of a fluorescent FPR2/ALX-targeted probe using focused ultrasound and microbubbles to image activated microglia
RSC CHEMICAL BIOLOGY
2020; 1 (5): 385-389
View details for DOI 10.1039/d0cb00140f
View details for Web of Science ID 000616573600007
Targeting of Formyl Peptide Receptor 2 for in vivo imaging of acute vascular inflammation
2020; 10 (15): 6599-6614
Inflammatory conditions are associated with a variety of diseases and can significantly contribute to their pathophysiology. Neutrophils are recognised as key players in driving vascular inflammation and promoting inflammation resolution. As a result, neutrophils, and specifically their surface formyl peptide receptors (FPRs), are attractive targets for non-invasive visualization of inflammatory disease states and studying mechanistic details of the process. Methods: A small-molecule Formyl Peptide Receptor 2 (FPR2/ALX)-targeted compound was combined with two rhodamine-derived fluorescent tags to form firstly, a targeted probe (Rho-pip-C1) and secondly a targeted, pH-responsive probe (Rho-NH-C1) for in vivo applications. We tested internalization, toxicity and functional interactions with neutrophils in vitro for both compounds, as well as the fluorescence switching response of Rho-NH-C1 to neutrophil activation. Finally, in vivo imaging (fluorescent intravital microscopy [IVM]) and therapeutic efficacy studies were performed in an inflammatory mouse model. Results: In vitro studies showed that the compounds bound to human neutrophils via FPR2/ALX without causing internalization at relevant concentrations. Additionally, the compounds did not cause toxicity or affect neutrophil functional responses (e.g. chemotaxis or transmigration). In vivo studies using IVM showed Rho-pip-C1 bound to activated neutrophils in a model of vascular inflammation. The pH-sensitive ("switchable") version termed Rho-NH-C1 validated these findings, showing fluorescent activity only in inflammatory conditions. Conclusions: These results indicate a viable design of fluorescent probes that have the ability to detect inflammatory events by targeting activated neutrophils.
View details for DOI 10.7150/thno.44226
View details for Web of Science ID 000534614200003
View details for PubMedID 32550892
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC7295040
Neuron labeling with rhodamine-conjugated Gd-based MRI contrast agents delivered to the brain via focused ultrasound
2020; 10 (6): 2659-2674
Gadolinium-based magnetic resonance imaging contrast agents can provide information regarding neuronal function, provided that these agents can cross the neuronal cell membrane. Such contrast agents are normally restricted to extracellular domains, however, by attaching cationic fluorescent dyes, they can be made cell-permeable and allow for both optical and magnetic resonance detection. To reach neurons, these agents also need to cross the blood-brain barrier. Focused ultrasound combined with microbubbles has been shown to enhance the permeability of this barrier, allowing molecules into the brain non-invasively, locally and transiently. The goal of this study was to investigate whether combining fluorescent rhodamine with a gadolinium complex would form a dual-modal contrast agent that could label neurons in vivo when delivered to the mouse brain with focused ultrasound and microbubbles. Methods: Gadolinium complexes were combined with a fluorescent, cationic rhodamine unit to form probes with fluorescence and relaxivity properties suitable for in vivo applications. The left hemisphere of female C57bl/6 mice (8-10 weeks old; 19.07 ± 1.56 g; n = 16) was treated with ultrasound (centre frequency: 1 MHz, peak-negative pressure: 0.35 MPa, pulse length: 10 ms, repetition frequency: 0.5 Hz) while intravenously injecting SonoVue microbubbles and either the 1 kDa Gd(rhodamine-pip-DO3A) complex or a conventionally-used lysine-fixable Texas Red® 3 kDa dextran. The opposite right hemisphere was used as a non-treated control region. Brains were then extracted and either sectioned and imaged via fluorescence or confocal microscopy or imaged using a 9.4 T magnetic resonance imaging scanner. Brain slices were stained for neurons (NeuN), microglia (Iba1) and astrocytes (GFAP) to investigate the cellular localization of the probes. Results: Rhodamine fluorescence was detected in the left hemisphere of all ultrasound treated mice, while none was detected in the right control hemisphere. Cellular uptake of Gd(rhodamine-pip-DO3A) was observed in all the treated regions with a uniform distribution (coefficient of variation = 0.4 ± 0.05). Uptake was confirmed within neurons, whereas the probe did not co-localize with microglia and astrocytes. Compared to the dextran molecule, Gd(rhodamine-pip-DO3A) distributed more homogeneously and was less concentrated around blood vessels. Furthermore, the dextran molecule was found to accumulate unselectively in microglia as well as neurons, whereas our probe was only taken up by neurons. Gd(rhodamine-pip-DO3A) was detected via magnetic resonance imaging ex vivo in similar regions to where fluorescence was detected. Conclusion: We have introduced a method to image neurons with a dual-modal imaging agent delivered non-invasively and locally to the brain using focused ultrasound and microbubbles. When delivered to the mouse brain, the agent distributed homogeneously and was only uptaken by neurons; in contrast, conventionally used dextran distributed heterogeneously and was uptaken by microglia as well as neurons. This result indicates that our probe labels neurons without microglial involvement and in addition the probe was found to be detectable via both ex vivo MRI and fluorescence. Labeling neurons with such dual-modal agents could facilitate the study of neuronal morphology and physiology using the advantages of both imaging modalities.
View details for DOI 10.7150/thno.42665
View details for Web of Science ID 000514450900016
View details for PubMedID 32194827
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC7052893
Development, characterisation and in vitro evaluation of lanthanide-based FPR2/ALX-targeted imaging probes
2019; 48 (44): 16764-16775
We report the design, preparation and characterisation of three small-molecule, Formyl Peptide Receptor (FPR)-targeted lanthanide complexes (Tb·14, Eu·14 and Gd·14). Long-lived, metal-based emission was observed from the terbium complex (τH2O = 1.9 ms), whereas only negligible lanthanide signals were detected in the europium analogue. Ligand-centred emission was investigated using Gd·14 at room temperature and 77 K, leading to the postulation that metal emission may be sensitised via a ligand-based charge transfer state of the targeting Quin C1 unit. Comparatively high longitudinal relaxivity values (r1) for octadentate metal complexes of Gd·14 were determined (6.9 mM-1 s-1 at 400 MHz and 294 K), which could be a result of a relative increase in twisted square antiprism (TSAP) isomer prevalence compared to typical DOTA constructs (as evidenced by NMR spectroscopy). In vitro validation of concentration responses of Tb·14via three key neutrophil functional assays demonstrated that the inflammatory responses of neutrophils (i.e. chemotaxis, transmigration and granular release) remained unchanged in the presence of specific concentrations of the compound. Using a time-resolved microscopy set-up we were able to observe binding of the Tb·14 probe to stimulated human neutrophils around the cell periphery, while in the same experiment with un-activated neutrophils, no metal-based signals were detected. Our results demonstrate the utility of Tb·14 for time-resolved microscopy with lifetimes several orders of magnitude longer than autofluorescent signals and a preferential uptake in stimulated neutrophils.
View details for DOI 10.1039/c9dt03520f
View details for Web of Science ID 000496535000027
View details for PubMedID 31674608